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Le Mans Hypercar class takes first official step

FIA approves ACO's proposals, including unlimited testing for new racers ahead of 2020 start

By Sam Sheehan / Thursday, December 05, 2019

Remember the Le Mans Hypercar class that’s supposed to succeed the World Endurance Championship’s LMP1 category in just under a year? After dropping off the radar for a bit, it’s just been given official approval by the FIA, so future entrants Toyota, Aston Martin and Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus can now develop their cars with newfound certainty. The Hypercar class teams – which will also include Peugeot from 2022 – have been granted unrestricted testing mileage for the "first year of homologation" of each car, too, meaning we’re potentially only a few weeks away from seeing regular on-track Hypercar action in the run up to the 2020-2021 season. Finally.

So far, only Toyota has publicly announced the testing of its upcoming machine. The 2018 and 2019 Le Mans-winning team will field a prototype based on its future GR Super Sport road car, which was last seen testing on track in the summer. By contrast, rival SCG has so far only shown its 007 racer in a series of renderings, while Aston Martin’s Valkyrie-based machine is yet actually to break cover. You could say that’s of little surprise, though, given the secrecy of racing car development; only those involved will accurately know how far along the development line each of these cars is.

It's true that Peugeot will start development of its racing car later than its future rivals, but the French brand will also be granted unlimited testing mileage, as it applies to all new entrants for their opening season. The French brand only received support to enter the category from its parent, PSA, last month, but it also knows a thing or two about developing Le Mans-winning racers...

While the regulations will present teams with much development freedom when it comes to their racers’ bodywork, they will have to conform to a set few performance limitations. Each Hypercar class entrant will have to weigh at least 1,040kg and use a hybrid powertrain with no more than 750hp of combustion engine power and 270hp of electric grunt. The intention is for the fastest cars to lap the Circuit de la Sarthe in three and a half minutes, which would make them around 10 seconds slower than 2019’s polesitter time, set by Toyota’s TS050 Hybrid. To ensure the competition is hot, the WEC will extend the GTE’s Balance of Performance system into its new top category. If recent history is anything to go by, that alone should produce as much controversy as it does close racing.

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